ick of Freddy and Jason getting all the
attention, the producers of the "Halloween"
series decided to return Michael Myers to the big screen in 1988.
Apparently, they also decided to be ambitious and create a film on par
with the original. They came close, succeeding in giving us a quality
horror film that is worthy of the "Halloween" moniker.
As it turns out, Michael Myers didn't die in the
inferno at the end of "Halloween
II", he's just been spending the last several years in a coma at
the Richmond Mental Institute. One dark and stormy Halloween night, Myers
uses the opportunity of being transported to a new hospital to escape.
Getting back his trademark white mask and overalls, he returns to
Haddonfield intent on killing his young niece. Hot on his trail is Dr.
Loomis (Donald Pleasence), the obsessed psychiatrist sporting obvious
burns from his last encounter with Myers.
With "Halloween 4", Helmer Dwight H. Little
(the upcoming "Anacondas") emphasizes suspense and atmosphere.
Under his direction, the film has a creepy and dark feel that underlines
the scary scenes. That, combined with the shadowy cinematography of Peter
Lyons Collier, makes "Halloween 4" look a lot more expensive
than its paltry $5 million budget. And Alan Holwarth's music, while not as
effective as John Carpenter's, is still eerie enough to set audiences on
The script by Alan McElroy ("Wrong
Turn") is excellent but problematic in some regards. It features
plenty of kills, a lynch mob that goes hunting for Myers, and even a
chilling final shot that sets up "Halloween
5". The idea of Myers wiping out Haddonfield's police force and
blacking out the town single-handedly, as well as the creation of a niece
for Myers, are some of the script's nicer touches. They also make
McElroy's script one of the strongest in the "Halloween" series.
There are some weak points, however, as logic seeps in to destroy the
suspension of disbelief on more than one occasion. How does Myers know he
has a young niece if he's been in a coma for a decade? Why is he so
unearthly strong when he's been lying in a hospital bed, inert, for so
long? And why didn't Dr. Loomis call Dr. Kevorkian to perform a house call
on Myers while he was behaving himself, and thus prevent all this from
happening in the first place?
As for the cast, the main standout is legend Donald Pleasence. Portraying
Myer's obsessed doctor, Pleasence commands the audience's attention and
respect. He throws himself into the role, showing his love for the
character that he's played so many times. Young Danielle Harris is also
good as the imperiled niece Jamie Lloyd, projecting a vulnerability that
makes you want to jump into the film and shepherd her away from Myers. As
for everyone else, they do well in their respective roles, but no one
really transcends the limits of their characters.
For the return of the character that started the "slasher"
genre, Michael Myers is back in fine style. While not perfect,
"Halloween 4" is a well-made film that stretches the bucks it
was allotted. It's certainly better than the anemic "Halloween
III", or the many sequels that followed. It's nice to view this
installment and remember a time when the "Halloween" series
returned to near greatness -- before falling right back to mediocrity.